BBC F1 coverage: your verdict

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber talks to the BBC in Melbourne
Mark Webber talks to the BBC in Melbourne

A big talking point on the live blogs during the Australian Grand Prix weekend was how BBC did with their F1 coverage.

I thought they did a great job – but reading around some other sites I’ve noticed a few complaints. What did you think of the BBC’s return as an F1 broadcaster?


For the first time ever, all the F1 practice sessions as well as qualifying and the race were broadcast live in Britain. ITV made a big step forwards with this last year, offering all the sessions bar free practice three, but BBC are now bringing us the full complement – on television as well as online. This is a great step forwards.

I didn’t get much of a chance to play around with their onboard coverage, but the rolling highlights feed online was very useful.

We got a decent amount of post-session footage too. I was unimpressed with their decision to cut the post-qualifying press conference to go to an interview with Richard Branson, but on race day we got much more of the interviews. The post-race discussion which continued after the broadcast had finished on BBC1 was very good, and demonstrated BBC’s willingness to use modern television technologies to extend the coverage in a way ITV never bothered with.

Commentators and presenters

I’ve seen a few people on the forum here and on some other sites criticising Jonathan Legard’s performance as lead commentator. I’m at a loss to understand why. He had a few wobbles on Saturday but I thought he did a fine job on Sunday.

Inevitably, the rapport between him and Martin Brundle (who was in fine form) will need a little time to develop. I would, however, like them to be struck with a cricket bat every they use the phrase “KERS system”.

Jake Humphrey did all I expect from an anchorman – he kept things moving and didn’t get on my nerves. David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan brought plenty of useful first-hand knowledge of the sport and offered the kind of constructive disagreement that was lacking on ITV’s team last year.

Ted Kravitz did his usual solid job in the pit lane – but I don’t remember hearing much from Lee McKenzie.


One of the things I appreciated most about BBC’s coverage is how much less patronising it felt than ITV’s effort. Too often ITV seemed preoccupied with chasing celebrities and ignoring the enthusiast audience in favour of the patriotic element.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the home drivers, but it often felt like ITV did it to the exclusion of all else – particularly when Lewis Hamilton arrived on the scene. BBC struck a much better balance.


On the whole I thought the BBC did a very good job of their first F1 broadcast in 13 years. There was the odd hiccup – one broadcast abruptly disappeared for half a minute or so – and the presenters are obviously still getting used to each other, but that will surely develop with time.

Of course not having adverts instantly made the coverage incomparably better. FOM should take note and ensure that viewers abroad are offered the same luxury, even if on pay-per-0view.

The biggest things missing from the coverage at the moment are all things Formula One Management need to provide – a HD feed and better on-screen information.

Although I had my misgivings about ITV, it was clear from talking to fans from abroad that their coverage was among the best F1 got. But the BBC have raised the bar even higher.

What did you think of the BBC’s F1 coverage? Do you have a new local broadcaster in 2009? Do leave a comment – we know they’re paying attention to what F1 Fanatic readers have to say.

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155 comments on “BBC F1 coverage: your verdict”

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  1. I noticed Legard seemed much improved on Sunday as well.

    Overall I really liked BBC’s approach and coverage, especially the online and red button forum after the main program ended.

    1. I cant agree with you there! I mean Legard was ok, but the interviewing time before the race was too short, and thy don’t interview many relevant people like Vettel, or Buemi in his first race!

      Correct me if im wrong, but ITV made a better show overall than the beeb, although i prefer the beeb because it doesn’t have breaks in the middle of the race.

    2. Legard wasn’t bad on Friday/Saturday, but he was better on Sunday. Good on him. DC and friends did a good job too.

      I wouldn’t rate my local coverage so highly, though, they missed a couple of crashes (like Kimi) so they could have an ad break.

    3. BBC coverage as you would expect is about 100% better than ITV was BUT seeing as we are paying for it …it should be !
      Jake Humphries is not so bad I almost beleave he interested , I get a strange pleasure out of watching DC and EJ doing live tv …hmmm , Ted Kravitz does a solid job.
      Only weak point I can see is legard .
      I really hate to admit it but I think I preferd James Allen.
      I thought Legard had done radio coverage of F1 ? sometimes it seems he just does’nt know what he’s talking about.
      Brundle .love him or hate him hes good.
      Well done BBC good effort but have think about legard .

  2. Think they did a great job. Wasn’t sure about Legard, but he was pretty enthusiastic. Eddie Jordan is going to get extremely annoying though….

    1. I hear you about Eddie Jordan, he’s very driven, and seems to believe in everything he says is right. But then he was a team boss, from a background where he started from next to nothing, so we may have to put up with him, especially as he adds a contrast of opinion to the more mellow Brundle and Coulthard.

      I really miss James Allen commentating on f1, I would swap him any day for Legard.

      Legard who seems to have been woken up out of TV retirement for this role ( I know he’s been on 5 live since 97, but it just feels like you dragged your grandad out and he vaguely remembers what to do ). I really enjoyed James Allen and Martin Brundle as they brought a lot more of the atmosphere through the tv.

      I got annoyed a number of times, when I knew more than the commentators did. (through internet addictions, and RSS feeds :) )

      Overall though, I’m very glad it’s on the beeb. More polish though lads!

    2. While I’m here. I would like to say, if anyone hasn’t seen the Beeb’s intro sequence on Sunday. WOW! Made the hairs on my arms stand up.

      Detailed information as to why F1 is what it is. If you haven’t seen it, go and watch it on iPlayer.

      .. then, when the info-intro is done, The Chain kicks off, and you wanna shout for joy! :) ( I did at any rate, been a long wait for this season! I love it! )

  3. I thought the forum on the red button was great. Legard was okay on race day, but I didn’t really like him during qualifying. I’ll give him another few races before I can judge his quality properly.

    People are complaining about Eddie Jordan but I think he asks some decent questions, although he likes to interrupt people a lot. The only thing during the race which I wanted them to find out for me was the reason for the Ferrari’s retirement, but apart from that it was good.

  4. schumi the greatest
    30th March 2009, 12:20

    agree with you there keith bbc done a good job. a few times i expected to see the covergae go off for advert break, it took some getting used to as i normally got a drink or went to the toilet during these breaks but its juts so much better.

    Commentary – great i thought i think leggard was maybe talking abit too much because he used to commentate on the radio i think he sort of explained everything rather than juts pointing out intresting things, we can see the order on the tv so we dont need it to be repeated every 10 minutes. brundle was just his usual top notch.

    presenting – i thought jake humphrey was good too and i liked the banter between him, ej and dc. quite honestly though after putting up with mark blunell for the past few years anything would have been an improvement i mean literally anything!

    coverage – good again, the red button stuff is good sadly i couldnt see the f1 froum but after because being my birthday weekend i went out for a few drinks on saturday night and i sky plussed the race and watched it once i eventually got up. id be intrested to know what this was like if anyone who saw it could tell me??

    better than itv definitley ive got the chain stuck in my head now haha

  5. I agree it was brilliant! I was able to watch practice before work on Friday, then had the highlights on at work, although I wasnt meant to. The coverage was great, and even though it was only yesterday, this morning I managed to get the highlights in again!!

    I think that the Beeb have taken a lot of things that ITV had done well and incorporated it into a very good show.

    with no adverts and a plethera of knowledge in the line up I can wait for the other 16 races!!!

    meanwhile i am going on iPlayer to watch the race again!!!

  6. A brilliant first outing.

    Jake Humphrey, EJ and DC were 10 times better than Steve Rider and Mark Blundell.

    They were professional and very incisive.

    The commentary was brilliant: it was great hearing commentary that didn’t contain the word Hamilton ten times per sentence.

  7. Bigbadderboom
    30th March 2009, 12:38

    On the whole much improved…however

    Eddie Jordan seems to like the sound of his own voive and tried to dominate interview time, often cutting DC’s or Brundels opinions. Also a bit of an Eddie-DC “love in” at times.

    I think the BBC are to be commended on a good first show but FOM TV should get the feeds much better, often following minor place battles over lead fights. And will we be seeing more KERS telemtry.

  8. I agree with you Keith, I thought the coverage was very good… everything is in place and just needs a bit of polish.

    I thing Legard is still in Radio mode but will hold judgement until mid season to see how things improve. He had certainly improved from qualy to race.

    I particularly warmed to hearing Brundle and Ted, voices of familiarity in an otherwise new setting. They made me feel very much at home. ;-)

  9. Must agree with Keith. Don’t quite understand the criticism from some quarters, especially of Leggard who I thought did a good job during the race of keeping me informed – filling the holes left by FOM’s lacklustre graphics.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the Forum after the race, though Jordan will get irritating quickly if he continues his endless repetitions – thankfully Brundle managed to get things back to Humphreys before things got out of hand.

    Was very impressed with Humphreys, too. He had a smooth delivery with a light touch and was clearly well briefed – you only had to watch the Forum to see how his prompting generated an excellent debate. There were a few rough edges, but that’s to be expected. Otherwise it was an excellent return, while the online coverage was particularly good.

  10. Mouse_Nightshirt
    30th March 2009, 12:52

    The first thing I said to someone after qualification on Saturday was “You can tell Legard is a radio man”. I’m still holding judgement on him, but the rapport with Martin is not there at the minute and even Martin seemed slightly edgy. We’ll see how it develops.

    I preferred Steve to Jake. Jake seemed less interested and more monotonic. Maybe it was nerves and he’ll wake up.

    Eddie and DC were a great addition; their banter is quite insightful at times and it’s good to have a bit of debate; it was reasonably intelligent in any case.

    Lee seemed quiet and uninterested during driver interviews. It might be her tone of voice for me. Did anyone spot Louise Goodman giving someone a hug right after they were interviewed by the BBC? Can’t remember who, but Louise was there.

    Martin and Ted – excellent choices to keep on board.

    The after race forum was fantastic in my view, plus the ability to watch the onboard cameras during race day. Absolutely fantastic logistical coverage from the BBC in that sense.

    A few sore spots for me, but ones I reckon will heal with time.

  11. It’s the same format as itv. I don’t think it adds nothing special – quite the contrary with Legard’s football style.

    I would rank bbc’s coverage the same or worse than itv but adds free is great.

    Obviously the fact that they kept Brundle – the best one right now, similar with John Watson’s eurosport coverage years ago, always well in live events – seems to me basically the same quality.

    Fortunately fears that we would not see a live internet feed were not true. Live net feed as a very good image – possibly the best one.

    But I still prefer to re watch the race on mondays through italian rai to change a bit – and it’s a decent coverage as well.

  12. In Australia, we took the BBC’s feed through the new ‘One’ channel which has just launched (effectively channel 10). I found that Martin and Jonathan did a admirable job considering it was their first time out.

    One thing that was a little frustrating was that as the BBC do not take a break for commercials, ‘One’ had a little bit of trouble dealing with their advert commitments. So much so that Kimi Raikkonen’s off mid way through the race was completely missed by the Aussie audience, only being shown a replay well after the race had finished.

    In the old ITV days, there would have been a replay straight after the commercial break so everyone was up to speed as to what we had missed in the last 3 minutes.

    Anyway – thats an issue for One to work out, but overall well done by the BBC (Love to hear old Murray back though! :))

    1. For those of us without Channel One, we didn’t even get to see the replay.

    2. @Dave, actually in previous years you might be surprised to know channel 10 would fit in their own add breaks, regardless of when ITV had theirs, so no real change there.

  13. I thought the BBC did an excellent job, albeit helped along nicely by the most interesting race I can remember in a long time!

    Jake Humphrey was good as a frontman, certainly more enthusiastic than Steve Rider used to be and he showed a good knowwledge of the sport too. Not sure about Eddie Jordan yet, he may well get annoying as the season moves on but time will tell.

    Martin Brundle was top class as ever, agree with the comments about Legard still thinking he is on the Radio, though Im sure this is something he will put right after a couple more races.

    Particularly liked the BBC’s graphic on the use of the KERS battery power each lap when they were focussing on an individual driver, gave a good insight into where and then this is used by the different drivers and the tactics involved.

    All in all well done BBC!!

    1. Paul, the onboard telemetry graphics are provided by FOM, not the BBC. Whenever you see the F1 logo in the bottom left corner, it’s a FOM feed.

    2. I don’t think the KERS info was used to its fullest potential. The way it is displayed (the “in car” revs/speed/throttle/brake graphics) means it is only available for one car at the time. Granted, You can see where a driver uses it but there where a few instances where two KERS equipped cars were battling and it would have been cool to know the respective charge/use. It might be useful just 2-3 times in a race, but I think it would be worth it.

  14. I think it was a good a good start by the BBC. Unfortunately for me I only watched the terrestrial coverage as I don’t have digital yet, (hopefully I will get it before too long) so I missed out on practice and most of the post race coverage.

    Beforehand the only thing I was a bit wary of was the main presenter, Jake Humphrey, just because I didn’t know much about him other than he used to be on children’s TV, (I often find d kids TV presenters annoying) and that he has done some other general sports coverage for the Beeb, but I could did not have any complaints about his performance. However I think I may find Eddie Jordan annoying as the season goes on.

    Although The Chain is back as the theme music (yay!), I can’t say I liked the graphics they put with it, this was because I was expecting classic F1 clips like when the BBC used to have F1 rather than just a CGI sequence.

    I have a question, when Coulthard did that report on the qualifying show on Saturday he was surrounded by loads of old F1 cars, does anyone know where this is and if it open to the public. I believe Coulthard has his own collection of cars but I thought this was just ones he had raced himself.

    1. Rasputin was a C...
      30th March 2009, 13:55

      I believe Coulthard was wandering around the Grand Prix Collection at Donington Park. Went there last summer and I’d say it’s well worth a visit. The McLaren room is huuuggggeeeee.

  15. I thought, overall, it was good but I agree with those who said that Legard sounded like he was commentating for radio. I just think it sounded like a football match or horse race at times. At this stage I still prefer James Allen’s style.

    I’m glad they kept Brundle and I thought DC was good but Eddie Jordan’s going to try my patience, I think. What was with all the Bernie Ecclestone love?

    1. horse race… exactly what I thought!

      But in general, a very very good performance overall from the BBC. Forum was excellent. I have a hunch they cut away from the quali press conference because Rubens actually used the ‘F’ word shortly afterwards (I’m assuming it a delayed transmission).

      Less beardy branson would be nice though :)

    2. I have a hunch they cut away from the quali press conference because Rubens actually used the ‘F’ word shortly afterwards (I’m assuming it a delayed transmission).

      Ah that would make a lot of sense.

  16. I enjoyed the commentary but found that Ted Kravitz was underused. Ted came up with a few key points so I’m still confused as to why he didn’t get Legard’s job.

    Brundle and Humphrey are a good pair and once things settle down they will be the reason I choose the Beeb for my GP viewing.

    Overall – a good job Mr. Beeb but please use Ted Kravitz more!!

    1. Yeah, they ought to have used Ted more, especially with it being the first race he could have explained a lot of things about the race we weren’t really aware of

  17. The BBC did fine, I’m almost certain that in a few races time when they all know each other better and are a bit more experienced the coverage will be amazing. I’d say it was already on a par with ITV who were excellent, adverts and Hamilton loving aside.

    And who else liked the short ‘multi coloured electricity’ clip they play before the race starts (nothing to do with the BBC I know). It’s way better than the spinning lines of 2004- 2008… but I still miss this one:

    1. we all do my friend, we all do.

  18. I thought it was really good. I loved the race day intro graphics, and the music didn’t seem dated as I thought it would.

    The best thing for me is that they are letting DC and EJ ask questions, so you get the perspective from an F1 beginner and from the pros. The interviews seemed much improved because of that.

    I have no complaints about the commentary.

    I watched the post race stuff online as well as one of the practice sessions which I was please to see were commentated.

    I think they have done a great job.

  19. Unfortunately I missed the pre-race buildup as I only caught the later repeat, so I will have to wait before I can comment on those. I do like the fact that all the practices are now shown, and am looking forward to see what is available on the Red Button during the race.
    The Saturday mix of presenters was good, it felt more like a conversation you were included in than a general praise of all things Hammy as ITV used to be.
    I thought Brundle and Leggard were nicely balanced between commentary and information, does anyone know if BBC radio used the same commentary? If it does then that would explain his style….
    Ted was quite quiet in the Pit Lane, maybe my complaints got through to the BBC hehe, or maybe he needs to get his feet under him. I wonder if Lee is only there for the occasions when drivers fall off the track, so we will only hear from her after an incident?

  20. The one thing I noticed though was that they seemed to skip over the issue of starting weights only mentioning it briefly in the commentary.

    I was expecting a thorough dissection and fuel corrected qualifying times. Perhaps they thought it would improve the show not to mention it.

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